- by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date: Label:
The Folk Devils were one of the great Post Punk bands that slipped through the cracks. Their front man, Ian Lowery never gave up the fight and kept recording consistently great solo material, Ironic being among them. ‘The Crutch that Cripples Me’ is a tough, no nonsense kick off to a collection that takes no prisoners. Where other songs about addiction can be preachy or romantic, Lowery tears all that away and addresses the issue with caustic wit.
‘That’s All She Wrote’ is a fierce follow up with all the grit of L.A.M.F. era Heartbreakers. ‘Swing So Low’, takes on the drug industry, both legal and otherwise, keeping up the defiant mood. Any concerns that Lowery lost his edge after Folk Devils imploded, are unceremoniously laid to rest. The outrage, the eye toward social unrest; it’s all still there.
Ironic is full of hard luck tales, ‘Feast of Famine’ being one of the finest. Anyone living a life on the edge of the Arts knows that, “feast or famine, that’s all I get.” Elsewhere, ‘Cheating Time’ is your first indication that these recordings are culled from various recording sessions. Nevertheless, Ironic goes to show what a criminally under-rated songwriter Lowery was. Gruff, driving tracks like, "Nothing More" capture Lowery’s unique blend of belligerence and heart. Here is a talent at the height of its creative powers.
Speaking of heart, on ‘Afraid of Everything’ Lowery begrudgingly reveals his vulnerable side. For more of that, check out Lowery’s other compelling solo venture, Get Out the Sun.
Despite, its dourness, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress (Driven)’ is a showcase for Lowery’s innate Pop sensibilities. ‘My hands reach out for what they cannot hold,” Lowery grouses. Ragged plain or blasted heath, he’ll ride the road until it turns straight. “I can’t steal what’s given free,” he confesses. Another prime example of what Ironic is so rife with, snarling tongue in cheek bon mots in the face of adversity.
‘That’s How People Get Killed’ is one of Ironic’s highlights. An Ian Lowery classic for the ages. Folk Devils were never known for their love songs, and this is one Lowery’s most unabashed exercises in balladry. Suitably, rough around the edges and set in a harsh world. “I got what I don’t want,” he chants--- ironically.
‘Jesus On a Wing’ is another major standout. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, it’s a tale of sordid addiction, flight and redemption. Delivered with just the right dose of sarcasm and honey. “It’s all on file, it’s all on tape somewhere, buried deep inside of me,” he sings. And one can’t help but use those words to sum up Ironic. Here’s your chance to hear what was buried deep inside. While he's no longer with us, both Ironic and Get Out the Sun are all the proof you need that Ian Lowery was an all too well kept secret. A major talent, and cult artist up there with likes of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Rowland S. Howard.